The ability to interact intimately is one of the natural pleasures and joys of life. But cancer and cancer treatment can affect sexual health in a number of ways. Cancer surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and other treatments may result in changes to anatomy and function, body image, libido and other factors that affect sexual life. Addressing these side effects is an important part of your cancer care, and as vital as pain management, physical therapy and emotional well-being. The most common sexual side effects patients face include: Pain with intercourse Lack of interest and low libido Vulvar or vaginal dryness Physical changes to the breasts, vagina, skin and other body areas Changing body image Lack of pleasure or difficulty reaching orgasm Anxiety, depression and fear regarding intimacy Problems with erections or ejaculation Low testosterone level, or hypogonadism, which can produce symptoms of fatigue, weight gain, cognitive issues and decreased sexual drive Urinary leakage, or difficulty with urination Neurogenic bladder, a condition caused by neuropathy of the nerves that control the bladder. This can lead to a wide spectrum of symptoms, including inability to urinate, loss of bladder sensation, irritative voiding and more frequent urination.
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